Temi Coker is a Texas high school teacher by day and a freelance photographer, graphic designer and creative director by night. At the young age of 23, he is helping others tell their story by way of photography and design. His captivating images help capture the essence of the people he shoots. He turns his photos into a vivid work of art. He had a moment to chat with Blavity’s Creative Society and talk about how he is living life as both an educator and a creative.

Coker was born and raised in Lagos, Nigeria but came to the U.S. in 2004.

“Growing up, I didn’t have many pictures of me and my family. I still don’t know what I looked like at age 5–8, and it was one of the reasons I got into photography.”

He first picked up his hobby in 2011, but started taking it more seriously in 2012. “Believe it or not, I’m not the best writer. I sucked in English and writing essays, so I think being able to take a picture and allow it to speak for itself was something I was drawn to. Pictures are really worth a thousand words.” From there, he started building his brand.

Currently, he is a high school commercial photography and Photoshop teacher and also balances this with his freelance work through various mediums.

“To be honest, it’s quite exhausting doing that and running my business, but I’ve just learned to make time for both, and I try my best to never bring school work home. When I leave school, I leave it at the school and right when I come home, I hop on my computer and start editing, designing and browsing the web for inspiration. Pretty much my day goes from 6:45 a.m. — 10 p.m. or 12 a.m. Some days I just get back home from work and sleep before my body crashes.”

Photo: Courtesy of Temi Coker

Coker has built his hustle through the use of blogs and social media. Over time, his work has been well-recognized globally by many art enthusiasts. He has been able to work with many prestigious clients and brands. At the same time, he still makes time to pursue passion projects.

“To be honest, I’m still learning to balance both, but this year I’ve decided to MAKE time to do what I want to do. I think it’s important to create for yourself. Working nonstop for clients can make you feel like you’re in a box sometimes. It’s ok to MAKE time to fly.”

When asked about his favorite or most memorable project that he has worked on recently, he mentioned work that he did on his own accord and that helped him find his own voice:

Temi x Nigeria

In the Air: If Humans Could Fly

Mother’s Day Tribute

Dave + Kellee

When asked about how Coker markets himself, he simply replied by saying:


“I think people see that in my work and with who I am as a person in real life. I market myself through Twitter, Instagram and Facebook. I’m big on branding myself so I don’t have a separate page for my work. My goal is for brands and companies to be like: “We want to work with Temi Coker. You know?”

At 23, Coker still has big plans for the future. In the next five years, he sees himself still teaching and doing photography and design full time. He wants to continue to help big and small brands grow their businesses and be a creative director/consultant for those brands as well. He is also a musician and plans on dropping an EP in which he plans to fuse music with imagery and poetry. “It’s always been on my mind! Now I just gotta plant that seed and water it.”

Photo: Self-portrait of Coker via Instagram (@temi.coker)

He still has time set aside for dream projects and someday would love to do a photography/design workshop in Nigeria where a great line-up of creatives would speak and teach photography. In order to get in though, attendees would have to donate cameras. Coker would then donate those cameras to the boys and girls club or a small nonprofit that works with kids and teaches them about photography.

“My goal in life has been to always use my platform and gift to serve others. I didn’t get here by myself, so I can never think of myself higher than… It’s always good to be grounded.” Having a good circle around him and people who support him have certainly helped him achieve his goals as well keep him in check.

“I think what has gotten me this far has been God. I knew he gave me this gift and I’ve been faithful with it and serving others with it as well. Also by word of mouth and having relationships with others… Stay true to you. Be yourself. Everyone else is taken. When things get too hard, always remember why you started.”


What is your passion and how are you taking steps to make it come to life? Let us know in the comments below!

Learn more about the Creative Society here.